Features of Googie include upswept roofs, curvaceous, geometric shapes, and bold use of glass, steel and neon. Googie was also characterized by Space Age designs symbolic of motion, such as boomerangs, flying saucers, atoms and parabolas, and free-form designs such as “soft” parallelograms and an artist’s palette motif. These stylistic conventions represented American society’s fascination with Space Age themes and marketing emphasis on futuristic designs.
Mels Drive-In (Sherman Oaks)
Architects Louis Armet and Eldon Davis are renowned for their perfection of the Googie style, representing the very best of Mid-Century Modern roadside design. Kerry’s Coffee Shop (now Mel’s) in Sherman Oaks is a great example of their early Googie designs, showing their use of angled rooflines, dramatic signage, and other space-age elements that would become even more angled and dramatic in later work like Norms La Cienega and the Holiday Bowl.
Completed in 1953 and originally occupied by Dyle’s Restaurant, owned by Michael Konjoyan, the building soon changed hands to become Kerry’s and operated under that name for many years. Its front façade has been altered, with stucco and faux-retro neon signage covering a series of vertical posts that once ran up and past the roofline. But the overall roof shape is intact, and splendidly apparent from the side—it tilts upward toward the street to shelter the dining area, which is exposed by wraparound picture windows. Inside, the building retains its original terrazzo floors and overall layout centered on a large, L-shaped dining counter.
This Armet & Davis classic is one of very few surviving Googie coffee shops in the San Fernando Valley and a great early example of the style.
Bob’s Big Boy (Burbank)
Coffee shops of this era raised billboards to an art form, and the thirty-five-foot neon Bob’s sign is an integral part of the building. The larger sign made the coffee shop visible to passing automobiles and helped establish Bob’s as a brand.
From The Los Angeles Conservancy:
Completed in 1953, the Googie-style building features two thirty-foot-high parabolic arches made of sheet metal that pierce the stucco wedge of the shed roof and were originally outlined in flashing pink neon. Since the brothers were so proud of their food preparation techniques, they revealed their operations with canted plate glass surrounding the kitchen, allowing inspection from all sides. In 1959, the original stock neon sign was replaced with a custom model featuring the original mascot Speedee running atop a 60-foot golden arch.
Casa de Cadillac (Sherman Oaks)
The Theme Building at LAX